Tuesday, September 25, 2007

White Shirt Update

I wanted to fix the elastic in the sleeves of that white shirt I made last week. I think I figured out how to alter the pattern so there is more sleeve definition, but I can't do that to the already sewn shirt. The elastic though was definately too tight in the sleeves. Should have trusted the pattern! I just unpicked a little of the casing under the arm and took out the elastic. I tried the shirt on again, and it REALLY changed how it fits! It not so tight looking across the bust now. I think I might just leave the elastic out! I stil want to add back darts though. And, of course, when hemming it, my bobbin ran out with about two inches left to sew. I don't have enough white to wind another bobbin. I have the next shade of white, but it's definately 'off-white' when next to the white shirt! And, I don't like the hem. I folded it twice and presses, and zigzagged over the folded edge. It's much too stiff for the shirt and it looses that billowy feeling. Any suggestions? The cotton really frays so it needs something.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Getting Old

It's been a kick ass week. Sometimes I do the kicking, sometimes I get the kicking. To prove that I was being sarcastic about being the only one who could still fit in my dress from Ted and Nancy's wedding....here you go. It might be buttoned up, but I can't make fast moves, LOL. And those wrinkles on the back are not just fabric, there's some soft and squishy flesh filling out the wrinkles!
And ain't that a pretty sight (NOT!). My bust is in the wrong spot or something, and the post-4-pregnancies belly....So, while I CAN button it up, I can't do anything but breathe shallow and hold my arms still :)
You know what's funny? When I edited the picture, on the bookcase behind me, I could clearly see Dr. Phils' Weight Loss Solution book, LOL!
And you want to know the REALLY funny thing? I was getting ready for bed, and as I moved the dress off my bed....I put a BIG Oreo cookie smudge on it! LOL. Perhaps if I laid off the Oreos...

And this is the "EASY!!" dress I've been working on. The front's not too bad, as long as I stand up straight and don't lean forward, but the bodice straps are too long and instead of it tieing with the satin ribbon behind my neck, it's actually catching the fabric in the bow. But here's the money shot! LOL. After struggling all week, worrying about some issues that were fine, and being shocked with other issues that weren't fine, I got the zipper in. Even after the reduction, my back is still too narrow for my size! I've got to take out at least 3 inches of the back. I have to re-do the zipper anyway, so I don't feel too bad.

I used to wonder where my extra 20lbs are. Yeah, my boobs had at least two pounds, LOL, and my belly has another ....10lbs....but look at that back padding! Yah know, it would be totally fine with me if gravity would affect THAT and slide it down to my butt to make it more porportional! LOL.

I've pretty much come to terms with my weight/shape/size. I eat mostly healthy, I'm pretty active, and the meds help my cholesterol and blood pressure, LOL. It would take much more work than I'm comfortable with to get back to where I was 18lbs ago. I know the statistic is 5 lbs per kid....I just put it on BEFORE I had the kids ;)

Bones are for the dog; meat is for the man!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Apple a Day!

This little gem is an apple for Lucy's kindergarten class. Each week they make a collection of something, and this is apple week. Back in May, at the Georgetown guild, we were each given a mystery ball of yarn, and told to 'make something.' I knew most people would make a hat or scarf. The yarn was the exact weight, fiber content, and even colour as a pattern I have for a toddler neck pillow made to look like a caterpiller, but I needed two balls. So then I had the big idea that I could knit an apple for the collection!
Complete with a little red worm! Advice? Never stuff with polar fleece scraps if you need to be able to get a needle through it (like, to dimple the top of the apple). Even Rob couldn't do it. So I had to pick it open and find the real stuffing, and try again. It's a small apple, and I have lots of yarn left, so what else should I make?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sewers are Headless Too!

Knitters always pose headless, and now, so do sewers! At least, when their not-quite-five-year old takes the pictures! This top was inspired by Earthchicknits (scroll down to see her version). She did say to make the top with less ease then the pattern suggests, but I think it might be a little snug. I like it, but I have two issues. The sleeves. I went to cut the elastic for the sleeves, but the guide for cutting it seemed way too big. So I measured my arm and cut my own piece. I didn't know though that the sleeve would not be nearly as long as I thought, and so, the elastic is too tight around my arm.My other issue is how the body curves outwards under the arm, and the arm therefor has a very short seam. Because there's not much ease across my chest (man, I look huge still in these photos. I DID have the reduction, really! I know I am still 'larger' at about a 36veryfullC...), there isn't as much freedom of movement in the arms as there could be. I'd like to change this for the next one, but I'm not totally sure how to adjust the sleeve. I have an idea, but need to cut some fabric to test. And I hate wasting fabric!
My other thought/issue is this. I'm still narrower across the back, and this shirt is full. The same pieces are used to make a mini dress, which has back darts. Should I put the darts in this one, or take in the sides/center back seam (and dart the next top)? I need to know before I hem it!

She was right though, it's a cute top that's fairly easy to make (the sleeve instructions confused me!). It looks good without having to fuss with a collar (scary). I'd like the body more fitted, but it's still okay. Crinkle gauze is hard to cut though! I got some more fabric from the marked down cart, so I can make more! I also have some beige crinkle gauze, but it's not wide enough to do the front in one piece. Do you think doing it in two pieces would make it look odd/homemade?

Right now I've started a dress that was also labelled "Easy". I don't know who decides if it's easy....I had a hard time figuring out how to lay the pieces out!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


LuckyCanuck asks if I ever make anything lousy....now, Lucky, I know you saw the various item's from last fall's "Timeless Tuesday" series I did! Those were pretty lousy. And recently, there was the cream baby blanket on the Singer 327 that I frogged totally. And the crochet baby bonnet that got blue paint on it, and the hat I crocheted for Lucy that was too big, and the roughness of the W Tank....and some of my socks are not the finest looking. The pair I'm working on now, the short rows at the heel look TERRIBLE. I don't know what the issue is. I don't recall the other pairs looking so bad. I think I need to go back and read the instructions, LOL.

And now, I will share my thoughts, feelings, and scores from the K-W Knitters Fair. I had planned too anyway, but Monika's comment made me reflect on the annual event.

I don't remember what year was my first, I know I went in 2002, 33 weeks pregnant with Lucy. I'm not sure if I went the year before. I may have gone in 2000 but skipped 2001. I had been going to the Creative Needlework Festival in Toronto, but that was getting expensive (and K-W was only $3 back then), and hard to arrange with having kids (I got kicked out of a Lucy Neatby class because I had a 4 month old infant--Huey--with me. Lucy didn't care, it was someone from ANOTHER class in the same conference room who complained!). Kitchener is an hour away, through lovely early September countryside. Even for people coming from Toronto, it's not too remote. And FREE parking! Even now at $5, I still think it's a great day out.

The first year, I went hoping to find some certain things. It wasn't like that! Yarn stores didn't bring basic stock; there were a lot of kits (not my thing), lots of books, and lots of the trendy yarns--at that time, it was self-striping Regia. Three or four years ago, I think the entire show was sold out of Fleece Artist by noon. I shop odd-ball and sale bins, and there were very few of those!

Each year has had it's own flavour. One year, it seemed like most visitors wore their tackiest acrylic kit sweaters and purses. Last year, everyone had shawls. I am not a crowds person, but this was much easier to deal with than the Creative Needlework Festival. Everyone is a knitter, no one is selling mops or steak knives or even rubber stamps. People are the emodiment of Canadian politeness, even when eyeing the same skein. We're all there for the same reason; a collective conscience of creative indulgances.

The best time to shop is during the lunch time. It really thins out. But take your own lunch and eat it in the shelter out behind the parking lot.

The booths have changed a lot too. In the early years, there was a LOT of bending over--things were in bins on the floor at almost every booth it seemed. Especially the GoodBuyYarn.com. That was a terrible booth years ago. This year, everything was up at waist height, although it was not organized in anyway (the GoodBuyYarn booth, that is). But that's part of the fun.
As for the long, slow lines to pay--you have to remember that vendors aren't set up for electronic Visa purchases (see the Yarn Harlot's post about not realizing her credit card was 'not working'). The workers have to handwrite the slips and manually imprint the Visa cards. I did that for a home-based business for a short while; those machines are finicky and stiff. I noticed many booths had more people working---such as Camilla Valley Farm which is a LYS, and the fabulous Tobi was helping out (previously I had waited a LONG time at their booth).

And the notion of getting good deals....well, that's tricky. If you go there saying "I need 12 balls of Louet Gem in periwinkle" you won't find it. You've got to be the type that is either a kit person, or much more flexible....laceweight is laceweight....it's okay if it doesn't come with a pattern---for me. For others, that would make them put it back (I see this alot at the Spinrite tent sale. They had Fresco for $10 for 10 balls last year. But it's disontinued. It's an aran weight ribbon yarn. But yet this group of ladies who looked at it at the same time as me put it back because there was no pattern and it was discontinued!). A lot of the trendy yarns are not a good deal at the K-W show, but if you don't have a LYS, it gives you a chance to see and feel them, to flip through books, to just see things in real life.

I did manage to get some good deals this year. I had wanted to get books, but I just don't use them enough to justify the prices (and howcome Needle Arts Bookstore wasn't there? Or did I just not notice?).

As mentioned, the Good Buy Yarn booth was MUCH better this year. However, you have to know what the yarns are worth, and what you're willing to pay. There was a single ball of Zara, and the price was $10. Not a good price. But, I found this bag of 5 balls of Kureyon for $35. That IS a good price, normally it's about $10/ball. PLUS....the $35 includes tax! I only saw one bag of this colourway, and I really liked it so I snatched it up before Cindy saw it because I knew she was looking for Kureyon. There was quite a bit of GGH Safari, a linen yarn, quite fine, in colours I like, and Estelle 100% silk in beautiful colours, but it was out of my price range. This booth is a great place to go if you want odd balls for afghans like you can get the $200 kits for.

I wanted books, but this was the only one I bought. I love lace, but am still not quite a shawl person, so I thought some lace clothing books would be nice. The cover sweater did not interest me at all until I saw a lady at a booth wearing it, done in a soft, flowing, marled yarn with a slight fuzz. Then I fell in love and was glad I had chosen that book!

The FiberTrends pattern was not a deal, but was there, was one I wanted, and no shipping.

The yarn in the picture.....I decided on Friday that perhaps I would take a look at Handmaiden Sea Silk. I know everyone seems to love it, and one skein makes a decent sized project. But I had never seen it in real life. The first booth that had it, I found that colour and was swept away (haa haa). Cindy suggested I make a nightie for my anniversary cruise, so that's what I'm experimenting with. You might notice that I double stranded it (trying to match the colours) and that it's crocheted! I searched high and low for lingerie patterns, but they just don't come in the right gauge. I emailed Joan of http://www.whiteliesdesigns.com/ and she said that handknitters don't like knitting smaller than 20st/4 inches. I LOVE her lingerie designs, but I wasn't about to triple strand the yarn. I paid $35+tax for the Sea Silk, and saw it later at $50. I wouldn't have paid $50, and if someone had said that's what it goes for, I wouldn't have looked at it. But I was happy with the $35.

This is beautiful yarn, I first saw it several years ago at a workshop. It's regularly about $18-$20/skein (300m for 20g!!). Cindy spotted a little basket with a few skeins in it marked down. She grabbed two skeins in a really nice plum/purpley hand dyed. There were two skeins of this one, but I only bought one, for $10. So that was another great bargain. I love blues/greens.

We took the long way around and Grand River Yarns was near the end. Their booth was smaller this year, but again, everything was up instead of on the floor (maybe I'd look at the Briggs and Little booth if they'd stop putting it in bushel baskets on the floor!). She had a special of buy 4, get one free. Again, Cindy scooped up some beautiful skeins, and I had a hard time choosing what to get. There was some nice black/silver yarns, but it was $7.95/skein, which is fine for one skein, but not to buy 4 (for me, anyway. I'm just frugal). So I dug around and found the blue rayon. It's 253 yds, so I think I will get a nice plain, sweater/top out of it. For $4.95 a skein, I was happy! My free skein was the one on the right, it's kinda crinkly and is 400 yds. It's quite fine so I think it will be a shawl/stole. Maybe on the SInger 327....I'm doing something really neat on it right now that's a lace shawl.

Some vendors weren't there this year. Fiddlesticks Knitting, The KnittingNimrod, RedBirdKnits, NeedleArts Book Store....but there were others that were new.

So there you have it. I didn't go crazy, but I got some good bargains. It would be fabulous if they offered more in the way of workshops, but there's the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto in April for that.....hey.....Cindy.....I don't drive in the city......but I can buy lunch...

I've really got to get some things done, it's the first night for the Georgetown guild, AND it's meet the teacher pizza night.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You'd Think....

.....that in my stash, I could find 280yds of an interesting and nice worsted weight yarn for a quick little shrug. Nothing. I have big amounts of some yarns that would be okay, but do I really want to break open a bag of Classic Merino and use 3 balls for a little project and be left with not quite enough for a big project? And how does a little lacey shrug, short sleeved, take 280 yds? Well, the called for balls (Oh My!) are 142yds, and it takes two....so maybe the shrug only takes 160 yds.
And there's no way I can buy anything! OMG. I forgot to pay cash at one booth at the K-W Knitter's Fair and another didn't have debit, so I used 'our' Visa just a little bit too much. Then I placed an order for 'one cone' of machine knitting yarn, about $40. I asked if she had any odd cones kicking around (I was hoping for a little sample selection of machine knitting yarns as I told her I'm new), and she found 3 odd cones, equalling almost a full cone.....and gave me no discount for clearing out her odd cones! AND then....today I bought some swim passes.....the leaves have officially fallen off the money tree!

Lotus Tank

A Finished Object!!! And it's for me!!! Here it was, hanging in a tree, last Friday afternoon. It was a VERY windy day and I hoped it would dry quickly. Yeah, it's mostly cotton. It was still WET when the rain started. Here's a picture of it laying flat as I tried to 'dry' it with the iron. That didn't work too well either. I am glad I gave it a dunk with some baby shampoo though. The water was surprisingly yellow. I bought the yarn two years ago when I got my first knitting machine. I had made a tank, but never quite finished it for some reason. I ripped it back this past May, and started it either just before or after my surgery, I don't remember. So, really, I shouldn't be too surprised that it had accumlated some dust.Here's a closeup of the yarn and lace. I did notice a possible error in the pattern where the lace ends and you do the two garter ridges before stockinette. I hung the tank overnight to dry out some more, and although it still wasn't quite dry in the morning, hanging it did what else I was hoping it would--open the lace and get as much length as possible.

And here's me! I hate asking Rob to take a picture. He wants me to pose like the http://www.elann.com/ model!
I wore the top, still damp, to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair on Saturday. I so rarely make anything for myself, and even more rare--something from a published pattern. And to top it off, it was a COVER pattern for Interweave Knits, Summer 2006. I was quite pleased with it, but I was a little bashful when people complimented me/it. I'm not exactly the most outgoing gal, LOL.

I did do some modifying of the pattern though. I added some short rows after the last garter stitch ridge. Even with the reduction, I'm still on the fuller side, and I didn't want the tank to be too short, especially in the front (gotta hide that belly). I was worried at first that I had done too many short rows, but it came out perfect.
I was worried about the armholes being too big, but it's fine. The armhole edging does roll a little; a combination of not enough rows of garter st, and it extending into the armpit a little too far (but this happened on the model one too). I was looking for tops I could wear braless finally, but chickened out and wore a bra. The straps showed at the front, LOL.

The biggest modification....a yarn switch, of course. As I mentioned, I bought this yarn two years ago, from Grand River Yarns--a great site where you can buy yarns by the gram, and odd balls, and other great deals. I was standing in the GRY booth, Cindy was talking to Rochelle about poodles, and Rochelle looked at me and says, excitedly, "That's Yo-Yo!". I think Cindy was a little confused for a moment, LOL. It's a strand of unspun cotton (terrible for sewing up), wrapped with two shiny strands (rayon?), one in white, one in different shades of blues. I bought more of the yarn back then but haven't made it up either. I would suggest though that a slinkier yarn might be nice for the pattern, the original was bamboo, which I didn't realize is very slinky. The cotton is a bit more structured, and the lace is a little blurred by the textures.

So there you have it. A finished object, AND a picture of me!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Watch Your Language!
By Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC(Reprinted from the Journal of Human Lactation, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1996)

“The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. These are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.”

The lactation consultant says, “You have the best chance to provide your baby with the best possible start in life, through the special bond of breastfeeding. The wonderful advantages to you and your baby will last a lifetime.” And then the mother bottlefeeds. Why?

In part because that sales pitch could just as easily have come from a commercial baby milk pamphlet. When our phrasing and that of the baby milk industry are interchangeable, one of us is going about it wrong…and it probably isn’t the multinationals. Here is some of the language that I think subverts our good intentions every time we use it.

Best possible, ideal, optimal, perfect. Are you the best possible parent? Is your home life ideal? Do you provide optimal meals? Of course not. Those are admirable goals, not minimum standards. Let’s rephrase. Is your parenting inadequate? Is your home life subnormal? Do you provide deficient meals? Now it hurts. You may not expect to be far above normal, but you certainly don’t want to be below normal.

When we (and the artificial milk manufacturers) say that breastfeeding is the best possible way to feed babies because it provides their ideal food, perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition, the logical response is, “So what?” Our own experience tells us that optimal is not necessary. Normal is fine, and implied in this language is the absolute normalcy–and thus safety and adequacy–of artificial feeding. The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. Those are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.

Advantages. When we talk about the advantages of breastfeeding–the “lower rates” of cancer, the “reduced risk” of allergies, the “enhanced” bonding, the “stronger” immune system–we reinforce bottlefeeding yet again as the accepted, acceptable norm.

Health comparisons use a biological, not cultural, norm, whether the deviation is harmful or helpful. Smokers have higher rates of illness; increasing prenatal folic acid may reduce fetal defects. Because breastfeeding is the biological norm, breastfed babies are not “healthier;” artificially-fed babies are ill more often and more seriously. Breastfed babies do not “smell better;” artificial feeding results in an abnormal and unpleasant odor that reflects problems in an infant’s gut. We cannot expect to create a breastfeeding culture if we do not insist on a breastfeeding model of health in both our language and our literature.

We must not let inverted phrasing by the media and by our peers go unchallenged. When we fail to describe the hazards of artificial feeding, we deprive mothers of crucial decision-making information. The mother having difficulty with breastfeeding may not seek help just to achieve a “special bonus;” but she may clamor for help if she knows how much she and her baby stand to lose. She is less likely to use artificial milk just “to get him used to a bottle” if she knows that the contents of that bottle cause harm.

Nowhere is the comfortable illusion of bottlefed normalcy more carefully preserved than in discussions of cognitive development. When I ask groups of health professionals if they are familiar with the study on parental smoking and IQ (1), someone always tells me that the children of smoking mothers had “lower IQs.” When I ask about the study of premature infants fed either human milk or artificial milk (2), someone always knows that the breastmilk-fed babies were “smarter.” I have never seen either study presented any other way by the media–or even by the authors themselves. Even health professionals are shocked when I rephrase the results using breastfeeding as the norm: the artificially-fed children, like children of smokers, had lower IQs.

Inverting reality becomes even more misleading when we use percentages, because the numbers change depending on what we choose as our standard. If B is 3/4 of A, then a is 4/3 of B. Choose A as the standard, and B is 25% less. Choose B as the standard, and A is 33 1/3% more. Thus, if an item costing 100 units is put on sale for “25% less,”the price becomes 75. When the sale is over, and the item is marked back up, it must be marked up 33 1/3% to get the price up to 100. Those same figures appear in a recent study (3), which found a “25% decrease” in breast cancer rates among women who were breastfed as infants. Restated using breastfed health as the norm, there was a 33-1/3% increase in breast cancer rates among women who were artificially fed. Imagine the different impact those two statements would have on the public.

Special. “Breastfeeding is a special relationship.” “Set up a special nursing corner.” In or family, special meals take extra time. Special occasions mean extra work. Special is nice, but it is complicated, it is not an ongoing part of life, and it is not something we want to do very often. For most women, nursing must fit easily into a busy life–and, of course, it does. “Special” is weaning advice, not breastfeeding advice.

Breastfeeding is best; artificial milk is second best. Not according to the World Health Organization. Its hierarchy is: 1) breastfeeding; 2) the mother’s own milk expressed and given to her child some other way; 3) the milk of another human mother; and 4) artificial milk feeds (4). We need to keep this clear in our own minds and make it clear to others. “The next best thing to mother herself” comes from a breast, not from a can. The free sample perched so enticingly on the shelf at the doctor’s office is only the fourth best solution to breastfeeding problems.

There is a need for standard formula in some situations. Only because we do not have human milk banks. The person who needs additional blood does not turn to a fourth-rate substitute; there are blood banks that provide human blood for human beings. He does not need to have a special illness to qualify. All he needs is a personal shortage of blood. Yet only those infants who cannot tolerate fourth best are privileged enough to receive third best. I wonder what will happen when a relatively inexpensive commercial blood is designed that carries a substantially higher health risk than donor blood. Who will be considered unimportant enough to receive it? When we find ourselves using artificial milk with a client, let’s remind her and her health care providers that banked human milk ought to be available. Milk banks are more likely to become part of our culture if they first become part of our language.

We do not want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel guilty. Guilt is a concept that many women embrace automatically, even when they know that circumstances are truly beyond their control. (My mother has been known to apologize for the weather.)
Women’s (nearly) automatic assumption of guilt is evident in their responses to this scenario: Suppose you have taken a class in aerodynamics. You have also seen pilots fly planes. Now, imagine that you are the passenger in a two-seat plane. The pilot has a heart attack, and it is up to you to fly the plane. You crash. Do you feel guilty?
The males I asked responded, “No. Knowing about aerodynamics doesn’t mean you can fly an airplane.” “No, because I would have done my best.” “No. I might feel really bad about the plane and pilot, but I wouldn’t feel guilty.” “No. Planes are complicated to fly, even if you’ve seen someone do it.”
What did the females say? “I wouldn’t feel guilty about the plane, but I might about the pilot because there was a slight chance that I could have managed to land that plane.” “Yes, because I’m very hard on myself about my mistakes. Feeling bad and feeling guilty are all mixed up for me.” “Yes, I mean, of course. I know I shouldn’t, but I probably would.” “Did I kill someone else? If I didn’t kill anyone else, then I don’t feel guilty.” Note the phrases “my mistakes,” “I know I shouldn’t,” and “Did I kill anyone?” for an event over which these women would have had no control!

The mother who opts not to breastfeed, or who does not do so as long as she planned, is doing the best she can with the resources at hand. She may have had the standard “breast is best” spiel (the course in aerodynamics) and she may have seen a few mothers nursing at the mall (like watching the pilot on the plane’s overhead screen). That is clearly not enough information or training. But she may still feel guilty. She’s female.

Most of us have seen well-informed mothers struggle unsuccessfully to establish breastfeeding, and turn to bottlefeeding with a sense of acceptance because they know they did their best. And we have seen less well-informed mothers later rage against a system that did not give them the resources they later discovered they needed. Help a mother who says she feels guilty to analyze her feelings, and you may uncover a very different emotion. Someone long ago handed these mothers the word “guilt.” It is the wrong word.
Try this on: You have been crippled in a serious accident. Your physicians and physical therapists explain that learning to walk again would involve months of extremely painful and difficult work with no guarantee of success. They help you adjust to life in a wheelchair, and support you through the difficulties that result. Twenty years later, when your legs have withered beyond all hope, you meet someone whose accident matched your own. “It was difficult,” she says. “It was three months of sheer hell. But I’ve been walking ever since.” Would you feel guilty?
Women to whom I posed this scenario told me they would feel angry, betrayed, cheated. They would wish they could do it over with better information. They would feel regret for opportunities lost. Some of the women said they would feel guilty for not having sought out more opinions, for not having persevered in the absence of information and support. But gender-engendered guilt aside, we do not feel guilty about having been deprived of a pleasure. The mother who does not breastfeed impairs her own health, increases the difficulty and expense of infant and child rearing, an dismisses one of life’s most delightful relationships. She has lost something basic to her own well-being. What image of the satisfactions of breastfeeding do we convey when we use the word “guilt”?

Let’s rephrase, using the words women themselves gave me: “We don’t want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel angry. We don’t want to make them feel betrayed. We don’t want to make them feel cheated.” Peel back the layered implications of “we don’t want to make them feel guilty,” and you will find a system trying to cover its own tracks. It is not trying to protect her. It is trying to protect itself. Let’s level with mothers, support them when breastfeeding doesn’t work, and help them move beyond this inaccurate and ineffective word.

Pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Breastfeeding is a straight-forward health issue, not one of two equivlent choices. “One disadvantage of not smoking is that you are more likely to find secondhand smoke annoying. One advantage of smoking is that it can contribute to weight loss.” The real issue is differential morbidity and mortality. The rest–whether we are talking about tobacco or commercial baby milks–is just smoke.

One maternity center uses a “balanced” approach on an “infant feeding preference card” (5) that lists odorless stools and a return of the uterus to its normal size on the five lines of breastfeeding advantages. (Does this mean the bottlefeeding mother’s uterus never returns to normal?) Leaking breasts and an inability to see how much the baby is getting are included on the four lines of disadvantages. A formula-feeding advantage is that some mothers find it “less inhibiting and embarrassing.” The maternity facility reported good acceptance by the pediatric medical staff and no marked change in the rates of breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. That is not surprising. The information is not substantially different from the “balanced” lists that the artificial milk salesmen have peddled for years. It is probably an even better sales pitch because it now carries very clear hospital endorsement. “Fully informed,” the mother now feels confident making a life-long health decision based on relative diaper smells and the amount of skin that shows during feedings.

Why do the commercial baby milk companies offer pro and con lists that acknowledge some of their product’s shortcomings? Because any “balanced” approach that is presented in a heavily biased culture automatically supports the bias. If A and B are nearly equivalent, and if more than 90% of mothers ultimately choose B, as mothers in the United States do (according to an unpublished 1992 Mothers’ Survey by Ross Laboratories that indicated fewer than 10% of U.S. mothers nursing at a year), it makes sense to follow the majority. If there were an important difference, surely the health profession would make a point of not staying out of the decision-making process.

It is the parents’ choice to make. True. But deliberately stepping out of the process implies that the “balanced” list was accurate. In a recent issue of Parenting magazine, a pediatrician comments, “When I first visit a new mother in the hospital, I ask, ‘Are you breastfeeding or bottlefeeding?’ If she says she is going to bottlefeed, I nod and move on to my next questions. Supporting new parents means supporting them in whatever choices they make; you don’t march in postpartum and tell someone she’s making a terrible mistake, depriving herself and her child.” (6)
Yet if a woman announced to her doctor, midway through a routine physical examination, that she took up smoking a few days earlier, the physician would make sure she understood the hazards, reasoning that now was the easiest time for her to change her mind. It is hypocritical and irresponsible to take a clear position on smoking and “let parents decide” about breastfeeding without first making sure of their information base. Life choices are always the individual’s to make. That does not mean his or her information sources should be mute, nor that the parents who opt for bottlefeeding should be denied information that might prompt a different decision with a subsequent child.

Breastfeeding. Most other mammals never even see their own milk, and I doubt that any other mammalian mother deliberately “feeds” her young by basing her nursing intervals on what she infers the baby’s hunger level to be. Nursing quiets her young and no doubt feels good. We are the only mammal that consciously uses nursing to transfer calories…and we’re the only mammal that has chronic trouble making that transfer.

Women may say they “breastfed” for three months, but they usually say they “nursed” for three years. Easy, long-term breastfeeding involves forgetting about the “breast” and the “feeding” (and the duration, and the interval, and the transmission of the right nutrients in the right amounts, and the difference between nutritive and non-nutritive suckling needs, all of which form the focus of artificial milk pamphlets) and focusing instead on the relationship. Let’s all tell mothers that we hope they won’t “breastfeed”–that the real joys and satisfactions of the experience begin when they stop “breastfeeding” and start mothering at the breast.

All of us within the profession want breastfeeding to be our biological reference point. We want it to be the cultural norm; we want human milk to be made available to all human babies, regardless of other circumstances. A vital first step toward achieving those goals is within immediate reach of every one of us. All we have to do is…watch our language.

Olds D. L., Henderson, C. R. Tatelbaum, R.: Intellectual impairment in children of women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Pediatrics 1994; 93:221-27.Lucas, A., Morley, R., Cole, T.J., Lister, G., Leeson-Payne, C.: Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 1992; 339 (8788): 261-64.Fruedenheim, J.L., Graham, S., Laughlin, R., Vena, J.E., Bandera, E., et al: Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology 1994, 5:324-30.UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO: Facts for Life: A Communication Challenge. New York: UNICEF 1989; p. 20.Bowles, B.B., Leache, J., Starr, S., Foster, M.: Infant feeding preferences card. J Hum Lact 1993; 9: 256-58.Klass, P.: Decent exposure. Parenting (May) 1994; 98-104.

The Compliment!

I realized Friday night that I forgot to finish the post, "Criticism and Compliments". LOL.

Across the street from us is a typical suburban family. Overweight mom, overweight dad, kids on the way to being overweight. The kids are the same age as Lucy and Megan, but the mom returned to work last fall. They bought their house a few months before we did, from a guy Rob knows at work. Apparently they REALLY wanted the house. One of the nice features is the deck off the kitchen and the basement walkout, and it backs onto protected greenspace. But, they spend ALL their time in their garage and driveway! Even the BBQ is in the garage.

At some point this past summer I notice that the dad seemed to be home alot. Sometimes the kids were outside with him, but not always. And then I started noticing something freaky. Often, shortly after I'd go outside, his garage would open and there he was, sometimes smoking, sometimes on the phone. It was getting a little concerning. It doesn't happen every time I'm outside (with taking the kids to school, that means I'm getting in/out of the truck six times), but it seems to happen most on days that it's hot out.
Mmmmm....compliment, or criticism? LOL.

And thanks Z for the kind words! I can't believe you're starting with Fleece Artist roving!

Oh My Word!

CatBookMom posted a link at the about.com knitting forum that you just have to check out! I know my stash is a little big (can something really be little and big?), and I know others that have bigger stashes (and size doesn't always matter--Cindy's drawer of Zephyr is probably worth more than much of my stash combined!), but this one woman's stash is beyond comprehending. I think I am going to turn one of the pictures into my desktop wallpaper. Rob thinks I have too much yarn, but I can tell he's just saying it lightheartedly. For now....

PS...what's with the 'Word Verification' to publish posts?! That's fairly new, and it NEVER works on the first try for me. I know my glasses need replacing, but I SWEAR I am entering the correct letters!!! Now I'm on to the third try!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Criticisms and Compliments?

I don't like to complain, especially if it's something I can't/won't try to change. I have this blog to vent, and a parenting group online, but I try to keep it to a minimum. I also don't like criticism--giving it. I am very good at being able to 'see the other side' and try to stick up for the underdog. Rob hates this, LOL, as often he will complain about something at work, and I'll offer a perfectly logical possibility to explain the other person's behaviour. I try to be impartial and patient. Sometimes he calls me naive and lazy, but there is a difference.

I have been wanting a subscription to Interweave Knits for a long time (although I'm not too keen on the new layout, or the more fashion-oriented projects; leave those to Vogue Knitting!). They advertised a back issue sale, but I didn't want to just buy any old four to get one free. I regretted not buying the spring and summer issues, so I selected those. Then I thought I'd do the subscription thing at the same time. I noticed that the subscription would start with the summer issue. Great, I changed my back issue order to just the spring one, and hit send. Then I realized that the shipping amount had stayed the same, at $9! That's US dollars! I sent them a little email saying how shocked I was that it was costing that much. I never heard back. It came quite quickly, in a flat rate envelope. So, they charged me what they get charged for the flat rate envelop and why should they care that it's rediculous to pay $9 to ship ONE magazine. I should have just searched the internet hoping someone (like, maybe Camilla Valley Farm, a local place!) would have one.

So, now I'm waiting for my subscription to arrive. And waiting. After a couple weeks, I look at the confirmation email. I ordered it on July 26. " The current issue is Summer 2007 and it will be mailed August 15." is what the confirmation says. How can it take them twenty days to mail a current magazine? And it's taken twenty more days and it's still NOT HERE! The fall issue will be on stands (if it's not already) before I get the summer issue! I should have ordered it as a back issue and waited on the subscription!

Of course, I do have enough patterns collected that if I never see another new pattern I can still knit for the rest of my life....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Going Around in Circles

I forgot to write about these little things! Two little round dishcloths made on my standard gauge Singer 327.

When I was baking loads of stuff for Mom and Dad's 40th anniversary party, I realized I would need more containers to cart the stuff up there (I did NOT want to use 20 Quality Street tins, which are my usual containers). I asked on Freecycle for the loan of containers, and Judy came through. We've passed a few things between us and she's the one who sold me the Singer 327. When she delivered the containers (an very unexpected and very welcomed surprised), she also brought along a few cones of Size 3 cotton she found (it's amazing what she finds in her house. Looks small from the outside, but there must be some secret rooms in there!). She also mentioned that she is moving out of our area.

So, having been raised to never return a container or a dish empty, I made these up, using the yarn she gave me. The one on the right is plain white and a little larger (done by changing the tension, but this yarn still gave me headaches. There might have been some thin waste yarn caught in the tension dial of the yarn mast though).
The one on the left is white with a silver strand in it and was the first of the two that I made. I hadn't made these dishcloths in awhile, and never on the standard gauge, and I messed up the first wedge (on the right side, from 2:00 to 3:00). It has too many short rows. But some steam blocking with my great Shark iron made it behave!
I included these along with some leftover squares, when I returned the containers. We chatted for a bit, and she took everything inside....I haven't heard anything back, so I hope she realized there was something in one of the containers (it was a large, translucent Tupperware box; there were two of them, so I think she'd notice that one was heavier and looked like something was in it!). I know she's extremely busy, but I really hope she's not going to get a nasty surprise when she goes to store her Christmas baking, LOL.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to Routine

So, today is the first day of school! Yeah! I get to use the computer all afternoon...if I wanted, LOL. I can blog without interruption! I can drink Diet Coke without sharing! All kinds of crazy stuff.

But have I been knitting? Do I have anything to actually blog about? Remember the cute hats I made for the girls? The first one took a day, the second one took a week....the one for me took a month...It looks cuter on Megan than on me, LOL. I thought I was being creative with my striping, then I looked at my original hat and see I did the exact same pattern of stripes!

And this....well, the brown is still green (this is the yarn I dyed that was supposed to be brown). It is the "W Tank" from http://www.knitty.com/ from at least a year ago. I started it as we left for our holidays, and was pleasantly surprised at how fast it was going! Then I had some technical issues. The garter st wedges are all the same--the go on either side of the armholes, and the front and back necks. For the first part of the wedge you are increasing to get to the almost full length of the strap. I didn't really like how that was looking. Then you cast on 6 st to form the little bit at the top of the strap that is straight edged. Do a few ridges of garter st, then reverse it all by casting off 6 sts, and then casting off 2 sts at the start of every other row. I did all that the first time just simply, no special treatments. But I didn't like how the cast on 6/cast off 6 sts didn't match, and how the two sides of the strap didn't match. So for the next one I fiddled and tried some things. However, it affected the angle of the edge.

I don't know how well you can see it here, but the right edge of the front neck is tighter, not quite as long. It's going to need some crocheting around the edges to smooth it all out, so next time I wouldn't bother fussing, I'd just do the crochet edging.
I think I'm a little off on the gauge too (no, I did NOT do a swatch). But the cool thing was I managed to knit it all on a 16" circular as it turned out that was the only length I had in the right side. I would recommend though that you use a yarn that will block well, or slightly textured to hide some of the 'roughness'. I can notice in the picture that the transition from garter to stockinette is smooth, but the transition from stockinette to garter is 'steppy'. It's all done with short rows, so it's a great way to showcase multicoloured yarns.
As I was sewing it together, I realized that not only is the front and back the same, but if you turn it 90 degrees, it's also the same! I'm not sure why it wasn't done as one piece, but perhaps having the two side seams helps for when you get dressed, LOL. I still need to do the bottom 'band' or something (got to find the pattern...)

I've also been working on the Lotus Tank, from the cover of Interweave Knits...last summer? Again, it just needs to be sewn up and some edging done. I just started a 'scarf'...almost a lace stole from Interweave...spring 2006? I'd really like to get these finished up (well, the scarf has a LONG way to go), and some other things sitting under the desk....I also have a million pictures to download from our trip and from my parent's 40th anniversary party....and a cruise to plan/shop for.....

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My Kids!

My kids are watching Gremlins (it may be #2, I don't know) on TV. Sure, it starts out all cute and furry. Then they get moster-fied. I think it's scary. They are laughing their heads off!! Well, that's how I usually treat horror movies too, LOL.
One of the gremlins grows wings and gets out to the streets of New York. An older couple are gawking up at a cathedral, the circular windows, spires, gargoyles....(and the winged gremlin appears). Huey sees the cathedral, and shouts "It's Gotham City! Spiderman is going to come save everyone!!". OMG. The world to a seven year old!
(Even I know that it's Batman that lives in Gotham City, LOL).
They think it's hysterical that I said it was on when I was 13 and thought it was too scary. I still haven't seen the whole thing. But I am sitting at the knitting machine, knitting!